India, despite having major public sector units capable of producing vaccines, sources the bulk of its vaccines from the private sector.
In January 2008, three PSUs (Central Research Institute, Kasauli, and Pasteur Institute of India, Coonoor, and BCG Vaccine Lab, Chennai) were shut down citing non-compliance with the world Health Organisation’s good manufacturing practices (GMP). Since then the contribution of these institutions that originally met a substantial portion of the country’s requirement under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) dwindled, and in one case, stopped completely. This, despite the recommendations of a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health recommending (in 2010) strongly that the manufacturing be resumed at the three units after ensuring that GMP are adhered to. They also recommended pumping funds into the three institutions in order to make them viable again.
However, in 2012-2013, out of a total of 19,853 lakh doses procured in the country, only 1,095 doses came from two public sector vaccine-making units (CRI and PII) where production has revived. There is no production at the BCG Vaccine Lab.
Responding to an RTI application filed by K.V. Babu, a doctor based in Kerala, the Vaccine Procurement Cell of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has shown that vaccine supply from PII and CRI has come down drastically. .